Active Galactic Nuclei

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1 Active Galactic Nuclei How were they discovered? How common are they? How do we know they are giant black holes? What are their distinctive properties?

2 Active Galactic Nuclei for most galaxies the luminosity is dominated by starlight for a few % (higher fraction in the past) the nucleus of the galaxy is very bright These are Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)

3 Active Galactic Nuclei Numerous different types of AGN: Seyfert galaxies Quasars Blazars Radio galaxies Different observed properties: all thought to be powered by disk accretion on to a central supermassive black hole

4 Quasars First radio surveys of the sky done in 1950s Many bright radio sources out of the plane of the Galaxy were found to coincide with star-like objects on photographic plates Named Quasi-stellar radio sources (quasars) 3C 273 Nature initially a mystery

5 Quasars Mystery was solved when it was realized that quasars were very distant objects, whose spectra were red shifted by the expansion of the Universe If a source emits light at wavelength λ emit, and it is observed at λ obs, define redshift z: z = λ obs λ emit 1

6 Spectrum of a typical quasar Vanden Berk et al. (2001)

7 In an expanding Universe, redshift is a measure of distance: more distant quasars have higher redshift

8 Quasars Large distance implies a very high luminosity: emission from the point source in the nucleus vastly outshines rest of the galaxy!

9 Quasars Hubble Space Telescope images of quasars and host galaxies

10 Quasars Interpret high luminosity as due to disk accretion of gas on to a supermassive black hole Accretion rate M - kg s -1 (or Solar masses per year)

11 Quasars Conversion of rest mass of accreting gas to radiated energy is about 10% for disk accretion on to a black hole, i.e. for 1 kg accreted get: E = 0.1 kg c 2 Generally, luminosity: of energy in the form of radiation L = εmc 2 0.1M c 2 radiative efficiency of accretion

12 Quasars To get an observed luminosity of: L 0.1M c Watts Quasars must swallow gas at a rate of ~1 Solar mass per year M = kg s = kg s -1 or 1 Earth mass every 90 seconds

13 Quasars L 0.1M c Watts Compare to luminosity of Sun, 3.8 x Watts Luminosity from the accreting black hole is equal to 1.5 trillion (1.5 x ) stars like the Sun! Consequence of the high efficiency of black hole accretion vs nuclear fusion (10% vs 0.7%)

14 Quasars Hard even to see the stars in the galaxy: the nucleus is so bright

15 DO WE HAVE INDEPENDENT PROOF THAT QUASARS ARE MASSIVE BLACK HOLES? YES, TWO ARGUMENTS

16 QUASARS MUST BE MASSIVE 1) 1% of galaxies seen as quasars IMPLIES: EITHER 2) All galaxies swallow 1 solar mass/yr for 100 million years (1% of age of Universe) OR 3) 1 in 100 galaxies swallow 1 solar mass/yr for 10 billion years THEREFORE 4) Whatever is in a quasar contains between 100 million and ten billion solar masses

17 QUASARS MUST BE COMPACT Quasars (and other AGN, this is a Seyfert) are seen to vary on time scales of a day or less

18 Maximum size from variability For a source of size one light day, fastest time for a signal to cross the source is one day one light day Don t expect to see coordinated variations on less than 1 day time scale

19 Maximum size from variability Observe variability on 1 day time scale Infer quasars are less than 1 light day across L ~ (24 x 3600 s) x 3 x 10 8 ms -1 = 2.6 x m = 170 x radius of Earth orbit luminosity of a whole galaxy originates from region ~size of the Solar System!

20 QUASARS ARE BILLION SOLAR MASS BLACK HOLES AT THE CENTERS OF GALAXIES, SWALLOWING MATTER AT A HIGH RATE

21 QUASARS PUT OUT A LOT OF RADIATION AT ALL WAVELENGTHS

22 Radiation from Quasars Emit most energy in UV and optical light, but also shine brightly across the whole electromagnetic spectrum

23 THERMAL: PEAK AT PREFERRED WAVELENGTH NONTHERMAL: N0 PREFERRED WAVELENGTH

24 Quasars Luminosity from hot gas in the accretion disk, also from a jet possibly powered by black hole spin energy

25 Why do different AGN look different? Viewing direction? Face-on vs. edge-on disk Thick donut ( torus ) of gas can completely block nucleus: AGN only seen in reflection High vs. Low Power (relative to mass of BH)? High power: thin opaque disk, lots of dense gas clouds Low power: thick transparent disk Jet or no jet? pointed toward us or not?

26 Schematic of an AGN C.M. Urry and P. Padovani

27 NGC 1068: An Obscured AGN seen in reflection This bright cloud has a direct view of the intense nucleus Radiation and (possibly) a wind escapes through a cone-shaped funnel Nucleus is hidden in here

28 WHEN DID QUASARS FORM?

29 Most distant quasar known (z=7.54) Bañados et al. 2017

30 A mystery: at z = 7.5, time since the Big Bang was ~700 million years very few galaxies had formed by that time how did a billion Solar mass black hole grow that large in the time available?

31

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